November 9, 2014

Budget Woes Hit Spaceport America Recruitment (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Spaceport America is struggling on a limited budget that leaves few resources for marketing. Spaceport administrators need the launch fees that will come once Virgin begins regular flights to suborbit for paying passengers – plus revenue generated by an expected wave of tourists – before earmarking any substantial funding for anything but construction-related projects and day-to-day operations, said Spaceport America Executive Director Christine Anderson.

The Spaceport has had to juggle even its construction priorities because of lack of funds. A $13 million on-site visitor center, for example, was indefinitely postponed early this year to instead focus on a paved road from Las Cruces to the Spaceport – a $14.5 million expense. To date, the state has either earmarked or spent $218.5 million for Spaceport construction. Its current operating budget is about $3 million, boosted since last year by about $2.6 million in lease fees from Virgin Galactic.

That supports 33 full-time and 33 part-time employees and contractors. The Spaceport is facing a $1.5 million or higher budget deficit in the new fiscal year that begins next July. Major companies like General Motors, Land Rover and Nike periodically film futuristic commercials at the facility. That earns extra revenue for the Spaceport. Still, apart from rocket-launching companies like Virgin Galactic, the Spaceport must recruit a range of supply firms to build up an industry cluster in southern New Mexico. (11/9)

Editorial: Crash Brings New Urgency for Spaceport Plan (Source: Las Cruces Sun-News)
We believed before the crash that Spaceport America officials needed to be more proactive in luring new companies to the spaceport and diversifying its mission. Now, that has become essential to the survival of the spaceport. The future of commercial spaceflight will not be limited to space tourism. The opportunities will become more plentiful as the government begins to transition from NASA to private contractors for future exploration.

We built the spaceport with a vision, but not an operating plan. That needs to change. State and community leaders must come together to agree on a strategic plan to protect our investment and guide the spaceport into the years ahead. We should draw from other spaceports, including the Mojave Air and Space Port, to see what has worked for them, and what can be replicated here. We don't need to start from scratch, but do need to make sure everybody involved understands where we are going and how we expect to get there.

Editor's Note: I believe Spaceport America should focus on becoming the next Mojave, a center for aerospace flight testing and R&D. Despite its reputation for this kind of activity, Mojave's competitiveness has suffered from California's (relatively) burdensome regulatory requirements and other high costs. Like Mojave, Spaceport America is surrounded by expansive unpopulated desert and is near a military flight test base (Edwards AFB for Mojave and White Sands Missile Range for Spaceport America).

Are Satellites 'In Orbit' or 'On Orbit'? (Source: The Atlantic)
When that astronaut, or a satellite, or the moon, is whizzing around the Earth, is it properly said to be in orbit or on orbit? I know. “On orbit” struck me as strange, too, the first time I heard it. That’s because “in orbit” dominates mainstream press accounts. Some extremely shoddy data journalism reveals in orbit to be the canonical press version. Certainly it’s the usage preferred by major news organizations.

But turn to NASA’s website itself and things get a little muddier. The daily reports from the International Space Station deploy the lesser-used preposition. They are, in fact, called the “on-orbit status reports.” A 2001 edition of the agency’s internal Orbital Debris Quarterly News celebrates the “History of On-Orbit Satellite Fragmentations.” And “on orbit” appears in the official NASA style guide—its two words, the guide instructs, should be hyphenated when used as an adjective or adverb—whereas “in orbit” does not.

On orbit is an engineer’s phrase, a word deployed to indicate alignment with precise, pre-ordained paths. A rocket is not just in orbit—it has assumed that orbit, achieved it, is on it. In the other sense, meanwhile, an orbit is like a room, a generalized place where things can happen. (11/9)

UCSD Aims to Send Rocket Into Space (Source: UT San Diego)
UC San Diego will attempt to become the first university in the country to launch a rocket into the low reaches of space, a project that's currently being developed by student engineers working with money provided by industry. The Triton Rocket Club is designing a two-stage rocket that is tentatively scheduled to rise from Black Rock, Nevada next March, says the group's president, Nicholas Montoya, a senior in the Jacobs School of Engineering.

Plans call for sending a 25-foot to 30-foot rocket at least 62 miles high, then have it fall back to earth in a remote area of Nevada. Many schools have tried without success to shoot such a vehicle into space. UCSD is informally competing with the University of Southern California and Boston University to set the record. (11/6)

China's Mars Rover Prototype Debuts (Source: CRI English)
A prototype of China's planned Mars rover is among a number of high-tech products on display at this year's China International Industry Fair in Shanghai. Engineers say the rover has been designed along the same lines as the Chinese moon rover "Jade Rabbit," but with features to better cope with the conditions on Mars. "The current designed speed of the rover remains as 200 meters per hour. It can climb a slope of up to 30 degrees, and cross a barricade 350 millimeters high. These are the designs for its capabilities." (11/8)

SS2 Pilot Who Survived Gives Story (Source: Daily Mail)
Alsbury was trapped in the cockpit but Siebold was thrown clear of the wreckage or somehow unbuckled his seatbelt. He then plunged towards Earth at speeds topping 120mph. Witnesses reported seeing Siebold descending with part of the base of his seat still attached. It is likely that his oxygen mask, attached to a portable tank, remained in place. But at that altitude, the sudden decompression and extreme G-forces would have caused him to black out in seconds.

His emergency parachute deployed at around 20,000ft. It is not known if he pulled the cord or if it unfurled automatically. Both pilots were wearing parachutes calibrated to open automatically at a certain height in the event they became unconscious during an emergency. According to his father, "He doesn’t know how he managed to exit SpaceShipTwo. They don’t have an ejection seat. They have a panel they take out and they have to crawl towards the hole and jump out. But the plane broke up suddenly. I’m sure he was unconscious because he could not have maintained consciousness at 50,000ft.

"He doesn’t remember anything from the actual crash. He came to during the descent. He must have woken up about halfway down. When he was on the way down the chase plane was circling him and he was waving and giving the thumbs-up to indicate he was all right while he was dangling from the parachute." (11/8)

Action Camera Company Goes Orbital (Source: The Telegraph)
When Orbital Sciences’ unmanned rocket exploded in midair and plunged to earth in a ball of flames last week, it was more than just the work of NASA that went up in smoke. Aboard the rocket was millions of dollars worth of technology. Among others, Drift Innovation – a tech company best known for its line of cameras for extreme sports and outdoor life – saw months of its work lost amongst the wreckage.

The company had only just had its action camera, the Ghost S, approved for use on the International Space Station and put on the rocket before it exploded, in what NASA described as a “catastrophic anomaly”, shortly after take-off last Wednesday. Drift's range of mountable Ghost cameras are built to withstand water, dirt and bumps, making them well suited to the rigours of space travel – despite not being designed with that purpose in mind. (11/8)

Grey Goose’s Partnership with Virgin Galactic Hits a Bump (Source: New York Post)
The Grey Goose marketing people must be scratching their heads about what to do with their partnership with Virgin Galactic following the space tragedy where a pilot lost his life. The two companies threw a huge bash at the American Museum of Natural History back in September, with Grey Goose mixing up space-inspired vodka cocktails to promote the association. Virgin’s Richard Branson also hosted a panel on space travel.

While alcohol and flying a complex rocket to space may not immediately seem like a smart association, the two firms made an inspiring video featuring their joint passion for breaking frontiers. Grey Goose is made in France, more famous for its wine makers. Robert Passikoff, founder of Brand Keys, contends that vodka and space travel do go hand in hand. “The Russians,” he jokes. His advice to the vodka brand is to lie low and say little. (11/9)

Now We Need a Plan for Spaceport America (Source: Albuquerque Journal)
Jerry Larson, president and CEO of UP Aerospace – which has been flying payload rockets to suborbit from Spaceport America’s vertical launch pad since 2006 – said the Spaceport’s business plan has been “too narrow” from the start. “They’re focused on one tenant and one type of launch method,” Larson said, referring to Virgin’s strategy of horizontally launching a mothership from the Spaceport runway to carry the passenger rocket into the sky before shooting into space.

“The Spaceport’s vertical launch pad has been more of an afterthought, with few funds put into developing that part of the facility,” Larson said. “They constructed the Spaceport with all their eggs in one basket.” ... Christine Anderson: “It’s very true. It was developed around that partnership and Virgin’s needs, and the Spaceport has since spent its time on developing all that. Now we have a facility that’s designed for one anchor tenant and we should have others. We all know that.”

The state has already lost significant ground to other states as competition heats up in the emerging commercial space industry. New Mexico is up against places like Texas, California and Florida, where deeper pockets and decades of involvement in the space industry offer competitive advantages. “If it were me, I’d be out there like the village idiot recruiting and cutting deals,” said Mojave's Stuart Witt. (11/9)

Transgender Lockheed Martin Engineer Receives Top LGBT Award (Source: Denver Post)
Christine Bland's fingerprints are on several major deep-space missions from the last decade. She's worked on NASA's Juno and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter missions, among others, as an engineer at Lockheed Martin. Since 2009, she's led Lockheed's team developing the electronic hardware on NASA's Orion spacecraft.

Three years ago, she transitioned into what she calls her "true authentic self" — changing from living as a man named Ricky to living her life as a woman. Bland was recognized Saturday as the 2014 LGBT engineer of the year by the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals, or NOGLSTP. (11/9)

Defunct Soviet Satellite Plunges Into Pacific (Source: RIA Novosti)
A defunct Soviet satellite has left the Earth's orbit, disintegrated and plunged into the Pacific as anticipated by the Russian Air Defense Forces, its spokesperson said Saturday. "According to the Center for Space Monitoring at the Main Center for the Missile and Space Defense, the fragments of the space object left the orbit on November 8, 2014 over the Pacific Ocean," Col. Alexei Zolotukhin said. (11/8)

Europe Set to Make Space History with Comet Landing (Source: Business Insider)
One of the biggest gambles in space history comes to a climax on Wednesday when Europe attempts to make the first-ever landing on a comet. Speeding towards the Sun at 65,000 kilometers (40,600 miles) per hour, a lab called Philae will detach from its mothership Rosetta, heading for a deep-space rendezvous laden with risk.

The 100-kilogram (220-pound) probe will seek out a minuscule landing site on the treacherous surface of an object darker than coal, half a billion kilometres (300 million miles) from home. The stakes facing Rosetta managers in Darmstadt, Germany are daunting as the 1.3-billion-euro ($1.61-billion) project reaches a peak. Two decades of work have been poured into what could be a crowning moment in space exploration. (11/8)

Sir Walter Raleigh and the Uncertain Future of Space Travel (Source: The New Yorker)
The Wingacie letter—which possibly predates the ill-fated Roanoke-colony expedition by a few years—dispels the conventional assessment that Raleigh’s expeditions were blindly focussed on precious metals and quick rewards. Rather, Raleigh tried to woo financiers with promises of long-term profits made off of New World commodities, hinting at plentiful goods that more closely resemble grist for pharmaceuticals than snappy speculative profits.

The play didn’t pay off long-term; a few years later, the Roanoke colony, poorly outfitted for a permanent outpost, forced its governor, John White, to return to Britain. In the three years that White was gone, the colony disappeared. To Lane, this illustrated a failure of the private market to sustain an enterprise as ambitious and as expensive as a New World colony—a sophisticated venture-capital strategy wasn’t enough.

“We’re facing a similar situation right now with space exploration. Will we succeed in our space ambitions or will we lose another colony, metaphorically or maybe literally, because we haven’t got that right balance between public and private support?” Click here. (11/9)

Lehigh Professor Charged with Fraud in NASA Project (Source: Morning Call)
When Lehigh University professor Yujie Ding and his wife proposed to develop technology for NASA in 2010, the $600,000 project was supposed to be carried out by their small Center Valley company in conjunction with Ding's lab at Lehigh. In reality, federal authorities say, the work was done by a graduate student at Lehigh while Ding and his wife "executed a scheme to defraud NASA," pocketing $300,000 they told NASA the company needed to do its share of the work. Lehigh University got the rest.

The company, ArkLight Inc., was a shell with an address at Ding and Zotova's home in Center Valley, according to a complaint filed last week in U.S. District Court. It had no employees other than the couple and no laboratory or equipment. Charging Ding with wire fraud, an investigator for NASA's inspector general's office says ArkLight was set up to apply for and receive funding from the SBIR program.

In the case of the allegedly fraudulent 2010 grant application, Ding and Zotova "executed a scheme to defraud NASA, by setting up ArkLight as a fraudulent small business purportedly conducting research … and by artificially doubling the budgeted cost of the research project in order to make an undisclosed and illicit profit, the complaint says. (11/8)

Space Florida Provides $150,000 in Awards to Two Pensacola Companies (Source: Space Florida)
Space Florida awarded Intelligent Retinal Imaging Services $100,000 and Accountingfly $50,000 following the Innovation Awards Business Plan Competition in Pensacola, Florida. The two companies were among 10 finalists that presented novel business plans to potential investors at the event.

Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS) is a Pensacola-based healthcare software provider with the goal of eliminating blindness caused by diabetes. Accountingfly, also based in Pensacola, is the industry’s only accounting specific job board and network. Robotics Unlimited was also recognized as the day’s third place finalist, receiving $5,000 in business services courtesy of the Greater Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. (11/7)

We're Facing a Long March in Space Flight (Source: The Pilot)
America’s contribution to space exploration, when compared with that of China, seems all too likely to follow that of the Spanish role in European exploration, quickly becoming a failure. From 1492 until 1502, sailing for Spain, Columbus gathered the most advanced technology of the time to explore a universe mostly unknown to the world he had left behind. He brought temporary glory to Spain but not much else. He was Spain’s Neil Armstrong.

The lasting glory went to England. It took the technology Columbus had toyed with, improved it, and then permanently created a “New” England of permanent colonies in America. The trade and riches exploited by Britain’s practical use of Columbus’ genius formed the basis of Anglo-American cultural and trade domination into the 21st century.

Sadly, there is a parallel to the exploration of space, our “New World,” and the exploration of Columbus’ “New World.” The Italians never took Columbus seriously, and the Spanish never knew what to do with the discoveries he made. So the Spanish treated their conquests in the Americas the same as Americans today treat their conquest of outer space. (11/7)

Synthetic Biology for Space Exploration (Source: Berkeley)
Does synthetic biology hold the key to manned space exploration of the Moon and Mars? Berkeley Lab researchers have used synthetic biology to produce an inexpensive and reliable microbial-based alternative to the world’s most effective anti-malaria drug, and to develop clean, green and sustainable alternatives to gasoline, diesel and jet fuels. In the future, synthetic biology could also be used to make manned space missions more practical. Click here. (11/5)

Scientists Think Completely Unclassifiable and Undiscovered Life Forms Exist (Source: Motherboard)
In high school biology, we are taught that there are three types of life: eukaryotes (that's us, and most everything else we often think of as life), bacteria, and archaea (extremophiles and other very primitive life forms). But some scientists are pretty sure that there are  entirely different, undiscovered lifeforms that could be prevalent on Earth, and they remain undescribed because we're not good at looking for them.

In a  new paper published in Science, Tanja Woyke and Edward Rubin of the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute note that "there are reasons to believe that current approaches [to discovering life] may indeed miss taxa, particularly if they are very different from those that have so far been characterized."

In other words, there may be life out there that doesn't even use the four DNA and RNA bases that we're used to; there may be life out there that has evolved completely separately from everything that we have ever known to exist; there may be life that lives in places we haven't even looked. (11/7)

Ball Aerospace Lands Work on 18-Satellite Fleet for OmniEarth (Source: Denver Business Journal)
Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. has struck a deal to build instruments and assemble 18 satellites for a startup that aims to collect data from Earth's entire surface daily. Ball says it has reached a deal with OmniEarth Inc., which plans to have its entire fleet of satellites — each the size of a dorm-room refrigerator — launched and deployed in orbit by 2018. (11/6)

Musk May Back Internet Satellite Constellation [in Florida?]  (Source: Engadget)
Small, low-cost internet satellites that provide affordable internet to everyone on the planet. These are what Elon Musk wants to create next after working on reusable rockets, space capsules and electric cars since the early 2000's. Musk is in the early stages of collaborating with Greg Wyler, who founded O3b Networks and led Google's internet satellite venture until earlier this year.

The duo (with Wyler now representing WorldVu, a company he also founded recently) apparently plans to launch a total of 700 internet satellites into space. They want each of those satellites to cost less than $1 million to build and to weigh less than 250 pounds -- a huge undertaking, seeing as the smallest models these days cost several millions and weigh at least 500 pounds.

Wyler reportedly brought the idea to Google first during his time with the company, but he ended up leaving with his plans in tow, as he wasn't entirely sure Mountain View had "sufficient manufacturing expertise." Perhaps he thought things would fare better with the man behind Tesla and SpaceX, that's why he, along with Musk, have already talked to Florida and Colorado government officials about the possibility of building factories in those states. (11/8)

Abu Dhabi Fund Holding Off on Virgin Galactic Decision (Source: MENA FN)
The Abu Dhabi fund which owns a major stake in Virgin Galactic will wait for results of the probe into last week's fatal crash before deciding on its commitment to the project, a source with knowledge of the matter said. The backing of deep-pocketed Aabar Investments, run by the Abu Dhabi government, may be crucial to Virgin Galactic as it struggles to recover from the accident, which killed one test pilot and left another seriously injured.

"As an investor, Aabar is concerned of course. It is a challenge - nothing can be decided until investigations are over," the source said, declining to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "For now, it is a wait-and-watch situation." Asked if Aabar was still committed to Virgin Galactic, the source said only: "There is time to make an assessment of the future strategy." (11/7)

Don't Let Accidents Drag Down Space Program (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Two accidents involving private spacecraft shouldn't slow the push to develop the commercial space industry. This week, as NASA unveiled Orion, its next manned space capsule, news was still fresh from two accidents last week involving private spaceships. The timing might have left critics who think space travel would be better left under government control feeling vindicated. But the best hope for reviving the world's leading manned space program still depends on nurturing both public and private components.

The circumstances behind the two accidents were completely different. Their nearness in time, however, compounded their impact and added to lingering doubts about whether private companies have the right stuff to carry men and women into space. The Obama administration wisely decided in 2010 to let the commercial space industry take over manned trips to low Earth orbit after the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

The shift left NASA freer to concentrate its limited resources for human exploration on more-distant destinations, including asteroids and Mars. Deep-space exploration is the best hope for bringing back the glory days for the U.S. program, with all the accompanying scientific, technological and economic benefits. But Orion isn't scheduled to be carrying astronauts until at least 2021. (11/8)

Discrediting Space Tourism Insults the People Who Risk Their Lives for It (Source: WIRED)
As someone who teaches engineering students, it has been impossible not to reflect on SpaceShipTwo this week. A colleague of mine, also an engineering professor, reminded me of the many advances in automotive engineering that came about because of attempts to break the land speed record. Those efforts were ones that involved many engineers, and also many of that era’s wealthy elite.

Land speed record holders have come from families with backgrounds in diamond sales, fur trading, and other entrepreneurial endeavors. In 1904, William Vanderbilt, son of William Henry Vanderbilt and a millionaire himself, held the record at 92 miles per hour. At the time these attempts could easily have been dismissed as “thrill rides” by critics, but they also led to advances in tires, composites, and engine design.

I’d like to remind all of us that there are many examples of technology that was originally extremely expensive, and thus used initially by an admittedly wealthy subset of the population, that then became commonplace at multiple income levels. Consider, for a moment, the commercial airplane, computers, clean water and refrigeration— the technologies that I mention at the beginning of this article. There was a time when these were luxury items and some commentators couldn’t imagine that these would be available to the average person. (11/8)

The Bravest Thing Branson Could Do Now is Hang Up His Space Helmet (Source: Arabian Business)
As anyone who follows Formula One will tell you, there is a great story from 1976 that really defines the career of the legendary driver Niki Lauda. Just six weeks after suffering horrific burns during a race at the German Grand Prix, Lauda returned to the track for the final race of the season in Japan. He needed to beat his arch rival James Hunt to secure the world championship, and seal his place in history as the greatest comeback king that ever lived.

Yet just two laps into that race, after heavy rain, Lauda stopped his car and walked away, saying it was too dangerous to carry on racing. Hunt became world champion. Lauda lost. But despite being a coward in the eyes of his bosses at Ferrari, history would judge him a hero. He was smart enough and brave enough to know when to quit.

Sir Richard Branson would do well to watch a video of that race, as he ponders over the future of his Virgin Galactic dream. Putting ordinary people into space (for $200,000 each) was never going to be easy. But it was never meant to be this hard. (11/8)

Is India Unrealistic In Chasing A Manned Space Program? (Source: Business Insider)
Before Indian astronauts reach space, the country has to overcome seemingly challenging technological and costs hurdles. To begin with, ISRO has to build an effective launcher to lift a spacecraft to Low Earth Orbit (LEO). Geostationary Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV)'s successor GSLV-Mk 3 is capable of lifting a spacecraft weighing up to eight tons.

However, GSLV, which has failed in four of its first seven flights, has to prove its reliability. Then, ISRO has to build a spacecraft capable of ferrying the astronauts. However, ISRO, which has already conceptualized a 3-ton spacecraft that can support two astronauts on a two-day space mission, is seen to be on the right track to build the required spacecraft soon.

Support from Moscow, India's ally in the Asian space race, will help the country overcome some of these hiccups. Russia is expected to help build the astronaut capsule and select and train the astronauts. Indian astronauts will also get a trial run abroad Russia's Soyuz spacecraft (Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to be in the space as part of joint space programme between India and Russia in 1984). (11/8)

Two Suspects Detained for Theft of GLONASS Program Funds (Source: Itar-Tass)
Two suspects of embezzling funds of the GLONASS (Global Satellite Navigation System) federal target program have been detained. The embezzlement sum is worth 460 million roubles ($9.85 million). The first detainee Roman Martynenko, director of the SpetsMonolit company that performed the work for the construction of the GLONASS system control centre in Korolev outside Moscow. The second detainee is owner of the Verny Consulting firm Dmitry Belitsky. He is charged with legalization of criminal proceeds. (11/8)

EchoStar Adds Subscribers, Targets 2016 for Solaris Commercial Service (Source: Space News)
Satellite consumer broadband provider EchoStar Corp. said it increased its subscriber base by 2.7 percent in the three months ending Sept. 30, with wider profit margins, despite a drop in wholesale revenue from broadband subscribers collected by its sister company, Dish Network. EchoStar also said its satellite-terrestrial broadband service, Solaris Mobile of Dublin, would launch its EchoStar 21 satellite, formerly called TerreStar-2, in early 2016, with commercial service to begin later that year. (11/7)

Florida-Based ZGSI Goes to Market (Source: Space KSC)
On November 3 I wrote about Boca Raton-based Zero Gravity Solutions Inc. had begun filling commercial orders for its product BAM-FX, an agricultural nutrient delivery system originally developed for growing food crops in space vehicles on deep space missions. ZGSI announced that “has completed the regulatory requirements necessary to commence the sale and distribution of the Company’s first commercial product, BAM-FX in seven states.”

The seven states in which the Company has finalized the regulatory requirements to commence sales and distribution of BAM-FX are: Utah, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Delaware, Nevada, Arizona; California, Texas and Florida are pending.

ZGSI's BAM-FX technology brings agriculture to a new era through a patented, nutrient delivery system platform technology that allows plants to systemically absorb almost any mineral from the soil, improving survivability and nutritive value. This groundbreaking new technology was originally developed for growing food crops in space vehicles designed for deep space human missions, but has been found to have potentially far reaching applications also here on Earth. (11/8)

Ground Water Depletion Driving Global Conflicts - NASA Scientist (Source:
Global ground water supplies, crucial for sustaining agriculture, are being depleted at an alarming rate with dangerous security implications, a leading scientist said. "It's a major cause for concern because most of the places where it (ground water depletion) is happening are major food producing regions," said James Famiglietti, a University of California professor who conducts research for NASA. "India is the worst off, followed by the Middle East, and the U.S. is probably number three ... the Chinese, particularly on the north China plain, are more water limited than people believe." (11/7)

About 300 Russian Servicemen to Look for Space Flies in Kazakhstan (Source: Itar-Tass)
A rescue team of Russia's Central Military District arrived in Kazakhstan Friday to secure the landing of the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft with fruit flies on board. The fruit flies were bred during research of influence of zero gravity on multi-cellular organisms. The research is essential to further space exploration. About 300 soldiers of the Central Military District will take part in the rescue operation.

There are 14 Mi-8 helicopters, 2 An-26 aircraft and 6 rescue-evacuation cars. It's not the first experiment of zero gravity influence on multi-cellular organisms. Such organisms as geckos, silkworm eggs, dried seeds, fruit flies, and mushrooms were sent to space earlier. (11/7)

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